Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports



Despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, Jed York really isn't an idiot.

He was smart enough to know, for example, that Jim Harbaugh's departure would be wildly unpopular with his faithful customers. After all, Harbaugh had done more than drag the Niners out of the wilderness. In a way, he'd also sold—at outrageous prices—the seats in York's new stadium, a sterile roasting-pan in a suburb of San Jose. If the faithful paid for Harbaugh's Niners, and if York delivered something less....

Well, like I said, Jed York really isn't an idiot.

So he wanted to make it crystal clear: this wasn't merely his decision.

"This was a mutual decision between Jim and I," he said, exasperated by the persistent doubt. "I don't know what else to tell you. If you refuse to believe that, I can't help you. I don't know what else to say."

But York did say something else. He dared us to seek out a second opinion. You don't wanna take my word for it? Fine.

"You can ask Jim if you want."

York might've gotten away with this. If he'd replaced Harbaugh with at least a potential upgrade, the Niner community might've simply moved on. But after he'd decided on Jim Tomsula—and after he'd discovered, predictably enough, that top assistants don't want to work for empty suits—the scrutiny only intensified. And finally, someone decided to call York's bluff.

And that's when York lost everything.

"I was told I wouldn't be the coach anymore," Harbaugh said last week. "You can call it 'mutual,' [in the sense that] I wasn't going to put the 49ers in the position to have a coach that they didn't want anymore."

"But that's the truth of it. I didn't leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me."

This was what many suspected, of course. But nevertheless, Harbaugh's statement was a very big deal. For the first time, the two sides were at odds in public, and there was no middle ground. One was telling the truth, and one was lying. And, like always, the liar was the one with a reason to lie.

In this case, that's Jed York.

Even by today's low standards of moral conduct, there's something shockingly conniving about York's deception. Whatever his issues with Harbaugh were, he never would've dreamed of firing him while he was selling those PSLs (or SBLs, or whatever). Once those seats were purchased, though, York wasn't interested in anything else that Harbaugh could sell. Division titles? Respectability? Those things aren't measured in dollars.

So York fired him, but he didn't have the guts to own his decision. He pretended to be a man of courage, a man of integrity—proudly demanding that we hold him "accountable" for what he'd done (though of course he wouldn't explain how we could). Yet when push came to shove, he was too afraid to admit what he'd done. So, instead, he lied.

And the irony is, if York truly cared about winning Super Bowls, he easily could've defended his decision. All he had to do was say, "I fired Jim because his offensive philosophy was too archaic for true contention." A lot of us might've still complained, but most of us would've understood. And a few of us, myself included, would've even agreed.

But his Super Bowl standard: that's just another lie. If the Super Bowl is your actual standard, you don't settle for a coaching staff of ragtags and rejects. If the Super Bowl is your actual standard, you do whatever it takes to win. But no matter how often he name-drops his uncle, York just isn't wired that way. After all, he said it himself: "Winning isn't the only thing that matters. Winning with class is what matters."

Yes, Jed, tell us. Tell us how much class you've got. Lecture us, as you lie to us.

Dubious ownership is nothing new, of course. But this still feels different, at least to me. When York's parents took over, they didn't pretend to be anything but what they were: accidental owners with virtually zero interest in football. Their most serious crime was trusting Terry Donahue, who drove the franchise into the ground. But Donahue had been handpicked by Bill Walsh himself; any of us would've trusted him too.

When they handed over the reins to Jed, he promised to be something else. A Niner fan, raised in the throes of Niner glory, committed to restoring "a championship culture." Since then, he's made exactly one decision that reflected such a lofty commitment. But after seeing what winning was like—the sacrifices that winning required—he decided, in essence, that he didn't like it. I'm sure he'd rather win than lose. But like he said, winning isn't really what matters. Like any spoiled rich kid, he'd rather just hang out with his buds.

And I, for one, can't tolerate this.

These last six years, we've often discussed the nature of fandom. Many of you have argued that a fan doesn't question, doesn't criticize, and certainly never, ever, gives up. Essentially, you've argued, the relationship between the fan and the team requires commitment from only one side; the fan must invest of his heart and soul—and must even invest of his limited funds—even when he gets nothing back. And, you've argued, he must do so forever, absolutely no matter what.

This is precisely what York is counting on. He's expecting you to absorb the firing of Harbaugh, the hiring of Tomsula and his pathetic staff, and even to absorb his lies, and then to simply shrug and say, "I wonder who we'll draft this year." This is precisely why he so boldly invites you to hold him accountable; he's counting on the fact that you won't.

But I, for one, am going to, in the only, very small way that I can. I won't invest of my heart and soul, and I certainly won't of my limited funds. If the Niners win, then good for them (though a Super Bowl win by this coaching staff is virtually unimaginable); but if they lose, then that'll be merely what York deserves. And no one's ever deserved it more.

Whether this makes me no longer a fan—or whether it makes me the best kind of fan—well, I'll leave that up to you.